FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Many woke up to a chilled morning knowing that they would be able to accomplish something they had never done before, descend from a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter.
U.S. Army Civil Affairs & Psychological Operations Command (Airborne) Army Reserve jumpmasters conducted familiarizing training at Nijmegen Drop Zone, during of Operation Toy Drop.
More than 120 jumpers wearing uniforms with flags of different nations were geared up ready to blanket the sky with parachutes.
This airborne operations training allowed U.S. Soldiers and partner nations to train with jumpmaster inspections, relaying jump commands and physically exiting the aircraft. Two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters transported troops from one location and flew them over Nijmegan Drop Zone.
The paratroopers utilized the MC-6 parachute. For most of the partner nation jumpmasters, this was their first time operating a steerable parachute.
Cpl. Ab Kasmi, a Dutch jumpmaster, explained that the training helped his first opportunity to jump from a Black Hawk.
"It's exciting, it's cool, it's everything," Kasmi said, "You feel free when you jump out."
He was accustomed to free fall jumps from an airplane, not static line jumps from a helicopter. He was very pleased with his first static line experience.
Today was the seventh airborne jump for Army Reserve Spc. Zakia Gray, with 982nd Combat Camera, who was able to earn Canadian and Latvian wings during the training. She said this was her first time parachuting from a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter and having her feet dangling from the helicopter was a different experience.
"I'm thankful for the opportunity to jump today and get my foreign jump wings," she said.
This was also Gray's first time using a steerable parachute. Her landing wasn't as she expected, due to winds that was a challenge for her. She took the training today as a lesson learned.
"You have to experience everything at least once," said Gray, "Today is going to help me in my future jumps to know what to do and how to conduct myself."